Regional Wines In-Store Mini NZ Pinot Noir Tasting – Jan 2017


Clos Henri ‘Petit Clos’ Pinot Noir Marlborough 2015 -$23.55 Juicy & approachable, with structure and depth.

Kiritea ‘ Te Hera’ Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013  -$21.65 – savoury, peppery  & aromatic. A layered, typical Wairarapa style.

Folding Hill Pinot Noir, Bendigo Central Otago 2013 -$28.95 – Elegant, wild thyme notes

Neudorf ‘Tom’s Block’ Pinot Noir Nelson 2014 -$30.25 – A quality quaffer.


Greystone Pinot Noir Waipara 2014 – $33.95 – Hand-harvested from the Omihi Vineyard. Wild yeast ferment with 15% whole bunch to add complexity.

This wine was commented at the tasting as being ‘cerebral’. If you think about anything long enough it becomes cerebral. I thought it had a velvet quality on the nose, with spice, some herbal character, and scents of red roses. So there!

Smooth mouthfeel, with a powerful and dense core of statement fruit. Elegant. It finished hot. No thinness or metallic notes, just deliciousness throughout.

Highly Recommended. 91 Points

What’s in the glass tonight November 29th – Pinot Noir


Locharburn Pinot Noir Central Otago 2013 – gift

The grapes for this wine were grown beside Lake Dunstan in the Cromwell basin from a single vineyard overlooking the Locharburn stream. It is not a label I am at all familiar with.

Dark carmine – a particularly dense-coloured Pinot. 14% alc.

It showed quite dumb the first night, but opened up beautifully graceful the second night

Soft savoury notes on the nose, I smelled dried herbs, very perfumed. There were strong fruit scents of dark cherries, touches of oak and vanilla, red roses, soap and crayon wax. Verging on being a Rhone…

A classic Cromwell Pinot Noir in the mouth. Reminds me of Wooing Tree, Beetlejuice and Mt Difficulty wines from that part of the country.  Sweet, rich and ripe. Flavours of dark cherries and plums. Fine-grained tannins. Raspy and textural. Long and hot, with a spicy finish.

Not at all a shrinking violet! I loved it.

Highly Recommended – 93 points

What’s in the glass tonight November 7th – Pinot Noir


Triplebank Pinot Noir Marlborough 2015 – $

A new label for me. An Awatere Valley wine from the Pernod Ricard stable of brands.

Pinot ruby. 13.5% alc.

Lightly aromatic, moderately comples on the nose, sweet red cherries, lightly spiced. Hint of stalk/whole bunch.

Simple flavours, not a lot going on. Moderate ripeness and extract, what you would expect from a Pinot at this price point. A bit sharp and metallic towards the finish.

83 points

What’s in the glass tonight October 12th – Pinot Noir


From the Cellar: Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir Central Otago 2011 – $$$+

Another wine from one of New Zealand’s vinous rock stars.

Deep pinot ruby. 14% alc. Leggy.

Gorgeous perfumed nose. Savoury and hot, with brambly black cherries, herbs and thyme. Showing a deep intensity of bold fruit.

To drink the wine started sweet on attack, and was savoury through the mid-palate, and a herbal note towards the end. Ripe, finely textured, well balanced. Hot finish.

This is a very fine, yet grunty, pinot. Wants another five years to really exhibit its class. Shame I haven’t got another bottle..


95 points

Felton Road Block 3


What’s in the glass tonight Oct 11th – Pinot Noir


Te Hera Estate Kiritea Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013 – $$

A find this was! Showing intense perfume, layered, with savoury characters so typical of M’bo pinots.  Dark cherries, heady spic, powerful. Perfect ripeness allowing for a hint of cool climate leafiness to aid florality.

Could sniff this all day…

The promise on nose extended to the mouth. Great fruit weight and body. Robust and textural, acid through the mid-palate, with a grainy finish. Heat and length at the death.

Perhaps off young vines, as it died a little in the glass over time.

Still, fabulous, & a bargain.

92 points

What’s in the glass tonight – Pinot Noir

worth cellaring PN 2016 3jpg

Kusuda Pinot Noir Martinborough 2010 Bottle no. 4862 – $$$+

I have never drunk a Kusuda Pinot Noir. I have heard of the producer, read the odd review, seen a few pricey bottles in the shops, but never had the spare readies and access to buy at the same time. Known for high quality and made in Lilliputian quantities, and somewhat of a “cult wine” in these parts.

Proprietor and Winemaker Hiro Kusuda was profiled by Tim Atkin MW in the March edition of Decanter alongside other small producers who were all “Tearing up the Rule Book”. Hiro left the Japanese Foreign Office to stuffy Oenology in Germany, despite not knowing the language.

Atkin writes, “Perfectionism characterises everything that Kusuda does. Working at the sorting table, he and his team wear gloves to handle the grapes, inspecting every berry for the slightest imperfection, discarding anything that isn’t porcelain perfect”. The 2014 Pinot Noir is “drinkable, focused and beautifully refined, reflecting the values of the man who made it”.

And then, Stephen Spurrier in the June edition of Decanter tasted Kusuda’s 2015 Riesling (“beautiful expression of flowers, fruit and minerals”), 2014 Pinot Noir (“incredible purity”), 2013 Syrah (“a superb modern classic”). Great stuff. Makes me want…

Imagined how pleased I was when AS generously brought out a bottle of the 2010 Kusuda Pinot Noir to share with those of us taking part in the recent Worth Cellaring Pinot Noir tasting I wrote about in early September, to bookend and to illuminate the preceding flight.

This was a real treat. The wine had wonderful weight and persistence, preceded by a gorgeous bouquet. I saw a sweet attack, paired with superb weight and extract.

The bottle age and fine cellaring set it apart from the other wines, and showed them all up. Thrilling!

95 points

Worth Cellaring Tasting – New Zealand Pinot Noirs over $37.50

worth cellaring PN 20161

Wow, this year has gone quickly. I found myself once again upstairs in the Regional Wines tasting room blind-evaluating current vintage NZ Pinots for their ‘cellarability’ at the annual Pinot Noir Worth Cellaring tasting hosted by Geoff Kelly and Richard Sherriff.

There was some talk about Pinots losing some of their appeal, as the previous nights tasting of sub-$37.50 Pinot Noirs had to be cancelled due to extreme lack of interest. I knew I wasn’t keen, and I wasn’t alone. The previous year’s events have been a reliable sell-out, but this tasting showed a few empty chairs.

We wondered why this was. Fashion has to be a factor – Rhones, Syrahs, and other red varieties are all gaining favour, and there are more import choices available to the wine-types who frequent these tastings. Also, there is a glut of very same-y, simple NZ Pinots, which closely resemble cordials that express red fruit characters rather than nuance and fine fragrance. The price point has a lot to do with this. I have to spend in the mid-$30s and above to get a good NZ Pinot Noir; the really good ones start in the mid-$60s; and up to $90+ for the rock stars. So I’m not going to be pulling the cork from those bottles all that often. So I buy the cheaper ones, and am left disappointed, or I buy by the glass, and am even more disappointed (with the exception of, say, Johner, or Roaring Meg, to be fair). So when it comes to a tasting like this, it is hard to summon the enthusiasm…

The line-up was as follows:

2014 Akarua Pinot Noir Bannockburn Central Otago $40

2014 Craggy Range Aroha Pinot Noir Martinborough $122

2013 Dog Point Pinot Noir Marlborough $44

2014 Escarpment Kiwa Pinot Noir Martinborough $67

2014 Fromm Clayvin Pinot Noir Marlborough $82

2014 Greystone Thomas Brothers Pinot Noir Waipara $97

2014 Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Bannockburn Central Otago $43

2014 Maude Pinot Noir Reserve Wanaka Central Otago $49

2013 Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere $63

2013 Peregrine Pinot Noir Bendigo Central Otago $39

2014 Shubert Pinot Noir Marion’s Vineyard Waiparapa $53

2014 Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Proprietor’s Reserve The Fusillier Bannockburn Central Otago $70

worth cellaring PN 2016 2jpg

So on to these wines, and to be frank, I thought half were very average. To my palate they lacked enough ripeness, extract and showed too much green stalk. You have to have some leaf to express the floral characters that makes a good Pinot Noir so appealing, but there has to be fruit weight and flavour behind it giving the wine the oomph it needs. For this money they have to taste great.

I am only going to write up the wines I liked here, cos it’s late and I don’t feel like wading through my notes to write up what disappointed me. Everyone has their bad days…

2014 Akarua Pinot Noir Bannockburn Central Otago – Pinot ruby, 14.3% alc – Fragrant, light red cherries, slightly green on bouquet. Bright fruit to taste, fresh acid, good weight and ripeness.  Appealing. A good ‘sighter’ wine for the flight. 91 points

2013 Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere – Deep Pinot ruby, 14% alc – Intense darker fruits than the Akarua, compact. It appeared Burgundian, and showed softness on standing in the glass. Intense flavours of dark cherries, long, with heat on the back palate. Light and spritely also, and piquant. 92 points

2014 Greystone Thomas Brothers Pinot Noir Waipara– Deep Pinot ruby, 13.5% alc – Big and fragrant. It seemed attractively raspy and spicy on the nose, with notes of deep pink English roses. Flavoursome red cherries, generous and gorgeous fruit weight. Chewy. 91 points.

2014 Shubert Pinot Noir Marion’s Vineyard Waiparapa  – Pinot ruby, 14.5% alc – Peppery and bold, impressive wonderfully floral character. I thought Burgundian, someone else said similar to Cotê de Beaune. Great weight of fruit in the mouth. Peppery and intense, complex lithe and spritely, with a tough, taut core. 93 points

2013 Dog Point Pinot Noir Marlborough – Deep Pinot ruby, 14% alc – Perfumed and floral, with slight leaf notes. Delicate, very fine bouquet. Good attack, quite sweet. Gracious, light and somewhat ethereal to taste, darker fruit flavours, balanced, and savoury. Quite long. 91 points.

2014 Escarpment Kiwa Pinot Noir Martinborough – Pinot ruby, 13% – Peppery and elegant nose with dark fruits. There was florality, depth and perfect ripeness. All of the that showed on the palate, with good acid and a fantastically  expressive mouthfeel. Intense, long and finishes firm. This needs time. 92 points.

I was disappointed with how the Aroha, Peregrine, Maude, Fromm and Mt Difficulty wines looked here. They should have been the rock stars. Maybe I am jaded, but they didn’t look good on the night. Was it the vintage? Hard to say – these wines were from three of NZ’s main growing areas, and I have the Aroha and Maude in my cellar already.

Bah. Who knows. Better times next year perhaps…


What’s in the glass tonight August 27th – Pinot Noir

Saddleback PN 2011

From the Cellar: Peregrine Saddleback Pinot Noir Central Otago 2011 – $

Bright pinot ruby. 13.5% alc. The second wine of Peregrine Wines.

Moderate intensity, a floral bouquet. Soft, with spice, pepper, and some savoury and herbal characteristics. This wine really needed decanting. Splashing helped, but it looked much better the next day.

To drink, the wine showed ripe red fruits, direct and simple. There was balance in the acids, and silky tannins. Good concentration. A long finish.

As I wrote earlier, this wine showed far more attractive on the second night. The age would have helped – it was softer, and the flavours and aromas emerged with more varietal intensity. The first night it had looked like the kind of red cordial that I hate so much about second-label Pinot Noirs. I know it isn’t something that noted producers want to achieve, but I see it all the time – a lack of finesse, grace and complexity straight out of the glass.

Second labels are bought for immediate drinking, not overnight decanting.

88 points